This was one of the findings of a report by the Food Ethics Council for the conservation charity WWF-UK. In compiling the report, ‘From individual to collective action: exploring business cases for addressing sustainable food security’, it interviewed senior food business executives about their views.
Dan Crossley, executive director of the Food Ethics Council and one of the authors of the report, said: “Many of the most progressive companies feel they are reaching the limit of what they can do.
“They have first mover advantage, but they feel other companies are riding on their coat tails. Voluntary agreements can be useful, but there is a call for greater legislation. It’s about a level playing field.”
The report urges businesses to campaign for legislative change. It says: “Governments sit up and take notice when the many speak as one. Where there’s no clear business case for sustainable food policies, lobby with other businesses for an operating environment that rewards progressive action to address long-term food security.”
It adds: “As different food company leaders said: ‘Where there is not a strong business case, legislate us, so that we are forced to perform, because voluntary standards can only get us so far'.”
Sustainable food security
Crossley said the report was intended for food businesses across the spectrum from large to small and shows that sustainable food security delivers long-term business security. It explores what is meant by sustainable food security, and suggests practical ways in which companies can make the business case for sustainable food security.
The report also suggests practical steps that companies can take and Crossley said this was not just an area for larger businesses.
“There are examples of smaller companies having an impact and taking a longer-term view: looking at where they are sourcing from and developing relationships with their suppliers,” he added.